A FINGERPRICK coronavirus antibody test that can give a result in just 20 minutes has passed is first major trials.
The tests, intended to say whether a person has ever contracted the virus, were reportedly found to be 98.6 percent accurate in secret human trials held in June.
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The government is now drawing up plans to buy and distribute millions of the tests, the Daily Telegraph reported.
The test was developed by the UK Rapid Test Consortium (UK-RTC), a partnership between Oxford University and a number of leading UK diagnostics firms.
Britain's only antibody tests approved thus far have involved blood samples being sent to laboratories for analysis, which can take days.
Anticipating a regulatory approval in the coming weeks, tens of thousands of prototypes have already reportedly been manufactured in factories across the United Kingdom.
Ministers are now said to be hoping that the AbC-19 lateral flow test will be available for use in a mass screening programme before the end of the year.
"It was found to be 98.6 per cent accurate, and that's very good news," Chris Hand, the leader of the UK-RTC, told the Telegraph.
"We're now scaling up with our partners to produce hundreds of thousands of doses every month."
He added that the government's health department is in talks with UK-RTC over buying millions of tests before the end of the year.
The tests are expected to be free and available to order online instead of being sold in supermarkets.
A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care said the tests would be useful, but that it is not yet known whether they would indicate immunity from the virus.
"While these tests will help us better understand how coronavirus is spreading across the country, we do not yet know whether antibodies indicate immunity from reinfection or transmission," they said.
Research continues to establish whether a person who has once had coronavirus is thereafter immune or can in fact be reinfected.
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